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Public health funerals

These are funeral arrangements made by the Council when someone dies without known friends or family or without anyone able and willing to arrange for the funeral. We usually act on a referral from the Coroner’s Office.

Although this is a statutory duty, we also have a moral duty to treat such cases with dignity and respect. We ensure that the funeral service is appropriate and indistinguishable from any other.

We have the power to recover the costs from the deceased’s estate. This includes the funeral costs and other reasonable costs, such as time taken by staff trying to find relatives of the deceased and for making funeral arrangements. 

Where someone dies in hospital, the Health Authority or NHS Hospital Trust will take responsibility for tracing relatives and arranging the funeral where necessary.

Extensive further information and advice is available on the Information for the Public Section of the Public Health Funerals Information Service.

Help with funeral costs Toggle accordion

If you are worried that you are unable to pay for the costs of a relative’s funeral, depending on your circumstances, you may be able eligible for assistance. There is further information on our Bereavement Support.

This is different to a Public Health Funeral, where the deceased usually has no known relative or no-one able to make funeral arrangements.

Public Health Funerals & Freedom of Information Requests Toggle accordion

  • We are frequently asked for information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 about public health funerals, people who have died with no known next of kin, and bona vacantia estates and estates which have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor, or Duchy of Lancaster or Cornwall.
  • There are relatively few public health funerals within this district. We therefore consider that publishing this information at quarterly intervals is reasonable and consistent with the provisions of the Act.
  • We are also concerned about disclosing the deceased’s last known address as their property is likely to be unoccupied and may still contain personal effects.
  • We consider that there is no overriding public interest in releasing this information. We believe that public interest is best served by upholding the exemption under Section 31 of the Act, as the disclosure of the information would be likely to prejudice the prevention of crime by enabling or encouraging the commission of offences.
  • In response to these FOI enquiries we are releasing the following information about public health funerals for the period January 2014 to date. The information is updated quarterly.